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Special needs planning for children with autism

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Estate Planning

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, you may feel like your son or daughter is alone. This is not the case, of course, as more than 2% of American adults have some level of autism. While some with autism spectrum disorder can work, others may struggle to find gainful employment.

While you are alive, you may be able to support your child financially. After your death, your son or daughter may qualify for means-tested government benefits. Leaving cash or in-kind gift to your child, though, may push him over the income threshold for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other programs.

A special needs trust

You may want to use a special needs trust as a workaround. With this type of trust, you reserve funds for your child’s benefit without giving them to them. As a result, your child can access the trust for supplemental expenses without losing government benefits.

Enhanced quality of life

Your son or daughter may not use funds from the special needs trust for living expenses, basic medical care or anything else government programs cover. Still, disbursements from the trust can go to costs that enhance your child’s quality of life, including

  • Hobbies
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Uncovered medical care
  • Home improvements
  • Other supplemental expenses

Creating a plan for these expenses can help you ensure your child will get to enjoy the life they love, even after you pass away.

A support plan

The trustee you designate to manage the special needs trust can also support your child. That is, the trustee may collaborate with your child’s doctors, social workers and other caregivers to ensure they have access to necessary resources.


Ultimately, if you fear your child may not be able to enjoy life after your death, including a special needs trust in your comprehensive estate plan may put your mind at ease.